5 Tent Types for the Fly Fishing Angler
As a fly fishing enthusiast, you know the importance of blending patience, skill, and the right equipment to be in prepared and in location for the perfect catch. Beyond rods, reels, and flies, having the appropriate shelter can make or break your angling adventure. Whether you're planning a multi-day expedition in the backcountry or a single day by the river, choosing the right tent is crucial. Here are five tent types that should be on every fly fishing angler's radar.
I’ll split it into two categories. Backpacking tents and car camping tents. Let’s face it most of our fishing can be done out of car camping situations and it offers us the ability to take everything including the kitchen sink
Backpacking Tent Options
The Bivouac (Bivy) Shelter: Minimalist's Haven
Sometimes simplicity is key, and that's where the bivouac shelter shines. Bivy shelters are the minimalist's dream: little more than a waterproof sack to protect your sleeping bag. They're perfect for the solitary angler who wants to lay their head down just about anywhere, without the fuss of a full tent. Although not as comfortable as other options, they offer an unparalleled connection to the outdoors and are incredibly easy to pack.
- Extremely lightweight and ultra-compact
- Close-to-nature experience
- Fast and effortless setup
- Suitable for solo anglers
Suggestion: Black Diamond Distance Tent with Adapters - This tent is combined with ultralight trekking poles to replace tent poles. It’s quite roomy for a single person tent and I found it easy to enter and exit with how the door is set up. Weighing in at 1lb 10oz this thing is ideal for you and your few small pieces of gear. Poles aren’t included so use the ones you have or pick up these ultralight packable poles that fit into or strap onto your pack with ease. Having that dual purpose trekking pole for the way in and out is really nice for those adventurous fly fishing outings. The Distance Carbon Z Pole is a great fit and having the carbon keeps me from having aluminum seize in any way when I use them as my wading staff.
The 3 Season Backpacking Tent: Lightweight and Efficient
For the angler who treks deep into the wilderness to find those untouched streams, a backpacking tent is a must-have. These tents are designed to be lightweight and compact without sacrificing protection from the elements. They typically have a simple, streamlined structure, which means they can be set up quickly after a long day of fishing. High-quality materials are used to balance the need for durability with the need to keep weight to a minimum, making these tents the ideal companion for the mobile angler.
- Compact and easy to carry
- Quick setup
- Adequate weather protection
Suggestion: The Big Agnes Fly Creek HV UL Dye Solution tent comes in a 1 person or 2 person 3 season model. Regardless it is lengthy for taller individuals and has plenty of extra room in it and the vestibule to keep you and your gear under wraps. The lightweight design and open air ventilation has made it a favorite for AT hikers and many more. Big Agnes really nailed it on this one.
The Four-Season Tent: Ready for Any Weather
The four-season tent is built to withstand the harshest conditions—be it heavy rain, snow, or strong winds. For anglers who don't let the weather dictate their fishing schedule, this is the perfect choice. With a more robust structure and thicker fabrics, these tents can maintain a comfortable environment inside, even when the weather outside is less than inviting.
- Sturdy and durable
- Insulated for cold weather
- Enhanced weatherproofing
- Ventilation options for temperature control
Suggestion: The NEMO Kunai 2 person 4 season tent takes the cake for me. Between the design, durability in weather conditions, weight and price I’m hard pressed to find something similar to compare to. This tent has an ideal entry with vestibule and is extremely comfortable with the roomy 2 person setup and large entry vestibule.
Car Camping Tents
Roof Top Tent: Elevate Your Experience
Roof Top Tents or RTTs are for the adventurous angler who wants to sleep among the trees. These unique shelters combine the comfort of a bed with the protection of a tent and are perfect for anglers that love to camp at the put in or the walk in parking lot. There is no need to clear a space for a traditional tent. They are especially handy in wet areas and colder climates. Keeping you off the ground in a cushy mattress and away from bears! RTTs offer a fun and alternative to being out camping but truly glamping in so many ways. Most these days can save you additional room by allowing you to store your sleeping bag and pillow up in the tent when it is stowed away.
- Warm off-ground sleeping experience
- Quick setup
- Additional storage
- Provides unique level of comfort and security
Suggestion: The new 23Zero Kabari X is a RTT that took good notes from their customers from their earlers models and created something special. They did an excellent job of learning from experiences and creating a RTT that is far better than the majority of knock off versions out there in the market. The innovative unfolding hinging system, for a superior clamshell design and ECO13B wall materials that keeps you dry are game changers.
The Cabin-Style Tent: A Home Away From Home
For those fly fishing retreats with friends or family, a cabin-style tent provides ample space and comfort. These tents often come with room dividers, ample headroom, and storage pockets, making them a suitable option for groups. They're perfect for longer stays in one location and for anglers who enjoy a bit more luxury and the social aspect of fishing trips.
- Spacious and comfortable
- Features like room dividers and large doors
- Great for groups and family use
- Typically taller with lots of headroom
Suggestion: Again, NEMO rises to the top with a car camping dream that isn’t a pile of overweighted canvas and poorly designed poles. Instead they truly focused on car camping and came up with the Aurora High Rise tent that has tons of room for a larger group including that desirable headroom. What I like most is that it is sturdy. They built it like a backpacking tent but with a larger footprint and additional headroom. This way when a storm comes you are prepared even though you are next to the car.
When selecting your tent, consider the environment you'll be fishing in, the length of your trip, and the level of comfort you desire. A well-chosen tent becomes more than just a place to sleep—it's your home base, a cozy retreat after a day spent wading in the waters, and sometimes, it's what keeps you going back out there day after day.
Remember, the best tent for you is one that suits your specific needs, fits your fishing lifestyle, and blends seamlessly into your experience on the river. With the right shelter above your head, you can rest easy and focus on what really matters: enjoying the serene beauty of the great outdoors and pursuing the next great catch.
By Christian Bacasa
Host of the Fly Fishing Insider Podcast